The Healing Community
Pastor Mark S. Klaisner
Roy Howard, in his book “The Purpose of Healing”, shares a powerful testimony. He writes that while visiting someone in a nursing home he stepped out of the elevator and found himself in a room where frail men and women were slumped in their wheelchairs staring off in front of the television with little or no expressions on their faces. As Roy Howard said; “It was a miserable site, but then something unexpected happened”.
He writes; “A young girl, maybe 7 or 8 years old, stepped away from her mother and walked over residents lined up in front of the T.V. She placed her hand upon the hand of man slumped in a wheelchair and then looked at him. With a smile on her face she told him her name. She then asked this gentleman; “what is your name”? The man titled his head up slightly and looked at her. His face broke into a smile and he said his name. Then that little girl went from person to person in each wheelchair offering the same healing touch and the same welcoming benediction.”
In one sense, no one stood up and danced a jig, but in another, everyone there experienced, for a moment, the restoration of the community of life where everyone had a place. This is the social healing that Jesus brings through people like this little girl. True community comes active and alive with each moment of grace and with every sacred touch.
Jesus, the Healer.
Our story (Mark 5:24b-34) is about Jesus as the divine physician. In this holy drama two individuals are seeking healing. One seeks healing for his daughter and the other for herself.
Perhaps, you have been there, sitting in hospital room holding the hand of your son or daughter praying that their fever will break. Maybe, it is a diagnosis that your praying from your hearts core will be benign. The truth is that we will do anything for our children or the one’s we love. That is why many of us can connect with Jairus.
Jairus represents a parent’s love for their children. He was a devout Jew, the leader of his synagogue, and Jesus was considered by many in the religious establishment an outcast. But Jairus did not hesitate to seek out Christ and implore his help for his dying daughter. He would do anything to save her life.
There was an incident where a father woke up to a smoke-filled house and hurried his family to safety. But while standing in his front yard he realized that one child was missing and apparently was still in the burning home. It was very dangerous to reenter the flaming building and firemen tried to dissuade him from going back into the home. But he went anyway and was badly burned, and he did rescue his son.
When asked about his actions, the father said he would rather die than live and know that he had not attempted to save his little son.
Yes, we will travel any distance or sacrifice even our lives to bring healing to our children or the one’s we love.
And then there is the woman in our story. This woman is not only a “nobody” – she is an outcast. Society had ostracized her due to a mysterious bleeding disorder that had crippled her for over a decade.
Jesus takes her out of the crowd and puts her on the center stage as an example of faith. She says, “If I can only touch the hem of his garment I will be healed.” Jesus takes her as she is and heals her. Amazing! Shocking! Encouraging!
Encouraging? Yes, because Jesus begins with her where she is. He feels her fingertips on his robe in the midst of a whooping, shouting, shoving crowd of people. He has the Kingdom of God on his mind – he has the task of healing of Jairus’ daughter- yet he is aware of the touch of her trembling, outstretched fingertips. Nothing – no one – is too small for this Creator of the universe.
Story after story in the gospels tell of this same amazing individuality. Jesus sees each person as a child of God. With Jesus, there is no such thing as a crowd; there are only individual children of God who have come together. Today’s story encourages all of us to come as we are, wherever we are. Whether we are a leader of the local synagogue or a women seen as an “outcast” due to her medical condition we all are invited to come to His table of healing.
He starts with us where we are.
Do you have a marriage problem?
A job problem?
An alcohol problem?
A drug problem?
An emotional problem?
A health problem?
Jesus will start with you wherever you are willing to start.
This is what we, the Church, are to be about. At its best, the Church on earth is an extension of Jesus in the world. At their best, Christians too are healers, not in any sense replacing medical science, but adding a dimension which is much needed in healing – compassion.
The Church, The Healing Community.
With all its imperfections, sins, blemishes, and warts, the Church is the intended healer of the world’s wounds. Christians are called to be compassionate, wounded healers.
Perhaps, Henri Nouwen, the Roman Catholic theologian, has said this better than anyone else. The author of many books, Nouwen speaks of Christians as “wounded healers” who have compassion.
What is compassion? Let me tell what isn’t.
Compassion is not pity. Pity lets us stay at a distance. In some instances, it can be condescending.
Compassion is not sympathy. Sympathy can lead someone to feeling sorry for another.
Compassion is not charity. Charity is for the rich to continue in their status over the poor.
Compassion is born of God. It means entering into the other person’s problems. It means taking on the burdens of the other. It means standing in the other person’s shoes. It is the humanizing way to deal with people.
Jesus was compassionate. He entered into fellowship with people. They knew that he knew how they felt. That’s the task of the healing community. The great illusion of leadership is to think that humankind can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there. The world needs wounded healers:
Wounded healers – who have experienced suffering themselves;
Wounded healers – who are willing to pay the price of entering into others’ lives, instead of just giving advice;
Wounded healers – who are aware of the loneliness of suffering because they have been there;
Wounded healers – making their own wounds into a source of healing by helping people share;
“Wounds and pains can become openings and occasions for a new vision,” Nouwen says. The people who suffer long to be touched by people who really care, people with compassion, wounded healers. Jesus was such a person. We, the people called “Church,” are called to be like him.
Like that little girl who brought grace to the residents of that nursing home, we too, can become instruments of Christ’s compassion in our own sphere of influence. It begins we each of us desiring to touch the hem of His garment and saying Lord, here I am.